Dehydrated


It rode around with us for weeks
afterwards, crumpled and misshapen
and slowly getting more and more battered
by the city’s jolting roads. Lying
on the floorboards, it rolled forwards,
diagonally, then back to the seat, and I
watched it now and then when you would
reverse. You looked straight into the
blind space your mirrors couldn’t reach,
but always over, over the empty
recyclable plastic bottle that was so
precious on the day we were parched
for water, for anything to ease the heat.
Thirst will make you reach for the nearest
thing that looks like a cure, will make
you pay too much for it. Sometimes,
remembering how our daily path wore down
that bottle, my throat becomes
sandpaper and my tongue itches and
I wonder if we’re paying still.

brock davis iphone photos

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Received


Someone else’s blood runs rivers
through our veins, pumping fountains

of words we never knew in human voice,
overflowing our throats and tongues.

Overhead, strange lights – holy
or not, who can say – ignite,

and this unworldly heat
boils our bones like water

even as our bodies learn to dance
the fever away, to speak

prophesy till we sweat miracles
from our very pores, till we empty ourselves

of revelation to become vessels
newly fired and standing to cool, somehow

still unsure about whose
body we have broken.

Crossing


When I die, I shall not
turn my eyes to heaven;
I shall not smile while forgetting
how to move my heart to move
my blood. My hands will let
go of every heaviness
they gathered, and my feet
will not feel the weight
this world pours into me. My gaze
will fall instead on the walls
between me and the land I left
a long time ago, and for that last
heartbeat already fading, I shall pretend
I see only the door that closed
behind me, opening again into
the place I tried to find
in so many other places.

SAPA, VIETNAM - CIRCA SEPTEMBER 2014: Bridge covered by mist at the Ta Phin Village in North Vietnam

Gospel


You will be forgiven
or you will just hurt yourself.
Not if you believe. Not if
you are sorry. Not sorry.

When you lay a hand on it,
raise the other hand to someone
else, swear that you mean good
only. Such promises may be

carried to the grave in pieces,
in secret. Your temptation is waiting
for you to stop, for you to say
No, it is right to do such things

by day, why would anyone pay
for sin otherwise. I might try but
it doesn’t matter. I know
you call this truth.

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Reward


So many miles are a coin’s length
between your fingertips, carrying
hours of fear ahead, perfect for another
game of what we both know
the other is thinking, playing
dumb and pretending this weight is
worth it. What we hold on to
holds us back, back there
and then, when the dream was still
like something we might have
wanted. Dead or alive.

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Precipice


Reconsider. There will be nothing
standing between you and regret
after this, nothing to bring you
back to this moment and bridge
the chasm that will divide
us. Nothing left can break
that has not already broken, and
yet I wish you would reach for
these words, into the silence still
falling.

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Riddle


Today I am a willow
and you a whirlwind, howling
sirocco rushing through

my hair, my fingers raking
your outline into so many streams
even as you throw your weight on

and against me. And yet
tonight you might be still,
I a swan and you

the lake mirroring me while I
skim your surface and draw
patterns far above your silent

depths, each of us contemplating
the other, in secret wondering
what we will be tomorrow.

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Translation


You must understand, the kind
of woman you are is always taken
seriously. Things you hold on to

are heavier than the world, and things
you hold up stay there, even after
you have folded your arms

in the same breath as not bad,
and moved on to the next piece
of sky that could be bluer.

You raise your children to reach
for every brightness, roots deep
in a bed you turned and turned, breaking

adversity into manageable portions.
What you bruise grows back
stronger. They know this.

When you sign the name you gave
yourself when you gave yourself
to us, you are writing sacrifice,

or love, or both, and when you say
enough it means more than,
so when I answer you,

you must understand, my words
still strain towards light, and in
my silence, what I mean

to say is I don’t know
how to, but by God,
Mother, I will try.

hold

Looking back


The truth is that he would have made it
and almost did. The world concerned
with thoughts of days and nights turned
his journey into a waste, laid the blame
on a man’s doubt, but then they couldn’t know

how distant sunlight scorched
my eyes – how, in the cool shelter
of that tunnel between my home then
and my home now, I hung back
until he had to know that gods do not

lie. The truth was his name slipping
past my teeth in the same voice he last heard
at our wedding, when I danced
from his songs to my union
with the fate that opened my soul

to the music of silence. The truth is
a plea for home, wherever you call it –
my restful dark.

Note: Another Eurydice poem – maybe one day I’ll write an Orpheus piece for a change.

look-back

Inherited


Worn, this seat,
where you leaned back, thinking
up words in strings twisted
all the better to hold
so many new worlds in place
– and more tired still when it holds someone
not you. I can almost hear its
exhalation, a gentle resigned creaking
of angles set in straining
joints, wood and metal and
wood again, its weariness echoed
in faded leather and the fraying
thread of imagination that keeps you
here when you are not.

chairtypewriter